Curse of Tippecanoe

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William Henry Harrison was the first President to be affected by the curse, 1841

The name Curse of Tippecanoe (also known as Tecumseh's Curse, the Presidential Curse, Zero-Year Curse, the Twenty-Year Curse, or the Twenty-Year Presidential Jinx) is used to describe the death of Presidents of the United States in office while elected or re-elected in a year ending in "0".[1]

The "curse" began when President William Henry Harrison (elected in 1840) died in office from pneumonia just one month after becoming President. According to a folk tale, the "curse" happened because then-General Harrison had fought on Native American grounds during the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe. The battle was famous, and "Old Tippecanoe" became Harrison's nickname. But the battle made the Native Americans so angry that they cursed his name.[2]

The last President included in this "curse" to die was John F. Kennedy. He was elected in 1960 and assassinated in 1963. Two later Presidents elected in "0" years: Ronald Reagan (1980), survived an assassination attempt and George W. Bush (2000), who also survived an assassination attempt.

Current President Joe Biden would be next in line seeing how he was elected in 2020.[3]

Presidents[change | change source]

The following Presidents were part of the "curse":

Abraham Lincoln was the first President to be assassinated in office

The only president who died in office without being elected in a "cursed" year was Zachary Taylor, who was elected in 1848 and died in 1850.

Survivors[change | change source]

The most recent two Presidents elected in a "zero" year survived the "curse":

Ronald Reagan is thought to have broken the curse after he survived an assassination attempt

Many people think that the curse was broken or lifted when John Hinckley tried to kill Ronald Reagan while he left a hotel in Washington, D.C.. After Reagan survived the attack no other Presidents after him were harmed until George W. Bush was elected.

References[change | change source]

  1. Randi Henderson and Tom Nugent, "The Zero Curse: More than just a coincidence?" (reprinted from the Baltimore Sun), November 2, 1980, in Syracuse Herald-American, p C-3
  2. "The Curse of Tecumseh". Snopes.com. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  3. Redmond, Timothy J. (November–December 2019). "The Presidential Curse and the Election of 2020". Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 43 no. 6. Center for Inquiry. pp. 40–43. Archived from the original on 13 April 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  4. The Sunday Intelligencer (Doylestown, PA), April 5, 1981, p 8
  5. "Bush grenade attacker gets life". CNN.com. January 11, 2006. Archived from the original on July 4, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2016.

Other websites[change | change source]